When I was 10, I brought home a stray cat who was malnourished and his hair was falling out. It took my parents 24 hours of “discussion” before they would let me keep him. With that out of the way, I went about finding all the information I could about how to nurse the cat back to health. After a few hours of painstakingly preparing the cat’s abode (which was fit for a king), the cat and I snuggled up and drifted off to sleep.
The searing pain on my belly was intense enough to jolt me from my deep slumber. I bolted upright and looked down at the source of my pain and in the bright fall moonlight I could clearly see 3 bloody scratches about 6 inches long directly across my abdomen. I put the cat in my closet and went back to sleep but I didn’t tell my mom about it because I thought she’d make me get rid of him.
So the next night, I put him in my closet again with his bed, food and litter box. When I woke the next morning, he had somehow gotten out and had torn my room apart. When I jumped out of the bed the first thing I could see was my reflection in my mirror and I was covered…literally covered…in cat scratches. So I cleaned myself up and got dressed, because today was the first day of school.
When I got home that afternoon, I went up to my room to see my cat. I walked over to his bed because I could see his soft fur in a little ball as he napped there. As I was reaching down to him my heart began racing. He was dead. I was heartbroken.
When my mom came home and I showed her the cat, she asked me if he had bitten or scratched me. I tensed as I lifted my shirt and showed her all the scratches.
The next thing I knew, the CDC was at our house. Everybody had masks and suits on and they took blood from everyone who had any contact with my cat.
That was the last I ever heard about any of it. I never found out why my cat died. Or maybe I did and I just blacked it out.
All of that preparation, nurturing, allowance money, scratches, hiding wounds and love, and I only owned that cat for a week. Not to mention the fact that I cried for at least 3 weeks after that! Never again, right?
Every animal I’ve owned since then have been strays and rescues, or I’ve taken them home from shelters.
Hey….everyone wants to be needed, which may be where this story started. In the end, though, this experience turned out to be my very first lesson in unconditional love.